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Man With Persistent Runny Nose Learns He Had Leaking Brain Fluid

A man in North Carolina who had a constant runny nose for years ultimately learned it was because of a brain fluid leak.

Greg Phillpotts told local ABC 11 this week that for five years, he believed his continuous runny nose was caused by allergies. But a doctor at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York says it was instead a result of a cerebrospinal fluid leak, the news station reports.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes the condition as an “escape of the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.”

The leak of the clear fluid occurs when there is a tear or hole in the membranes surrounding the brain or spinal cord, according to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Phillpotts told ABC 11 that his severe runny nose would happen “anywhere.”

“You could be anywhere; you could be on the airplane ― you could be anywhere ― you talk to somebody and this thing just drains right out of your face.”

Other doctors had reportedly diagnosed Phillpotts with pneumonia and bronchitis. He went to New York to see Dr. Alfred Iloreta at Mount Sinai after a bad coughing episode in February, ABC 11 reported. 

HuffPost has reached out to Mount Sinai for comment. 

“Sometimes when you have this leakage of fluid from the brain, it can evolve into what we call an ascending infection,” Iloreta told ABC 11, according to a video. “So infection can transmit, or bacteria can transmit, from the nose into the brain, resulting in meningitis.”

The Cedars-Sinai Medical Center says that while many CSF leaks heal on their own, patients with symptoms of a CSF leak should seek medical attention due to the increased risk of meningitis, a bacterial or viral infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. 

CSF leaks affect at least 5 in 100,000 people every year, according to the CSF Leak Association. 

Earlier this year, Kendra Jackson of Omaha, Nebraska, similarly learned she had a CSF leak after years of dealing with headaches and a constant runny nose, among other symptoms. 

Both Jackson and Phillpotts underwent surgery to fix the problem.

“You ever been, like, so congested you can’t breathe, and all of a sudden you can breathe again?” Phillpotts said of his procedure, according to ABC 11. “You know what a relief that was?”

Surgery to address a CSF leak often entails using tissue from another area of the patient’s body to close the hole in the skull base, according to the Cleveland Clinic. 

The medical center also notes that leaks can occur spontaneously, or they can be related to a head injury, tumors or surgery. 

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